Thursday, July 27, 2006

Bobby Darin

I'm a great fan of Hollywood Musicals. To me the 40's
and early 50's were the best years for Hollywood Musicals.
Most of the really good movies came from MGM, although
Warner Bros, and 20th Century Fox also made some great
musicals. My all time No. 1 musical is "Singing in the Rain"
followed by "An American in Paris". Fred Astaire was the best
dancer followed closely by the great Gene Kelly. Frank Sinatra,
the greatest singer of all time made some mediocre musicals
at MGM early in his career, although I must admit I enjoyed
the three movies he made with Gene Kelly. "Anchors Away";
"On The Town" and "Take Me Out To The Ball Game".
Why am I blogging about Hollywood Musicals?
I have just seen "Beyond The Sea" the Bobby Darin story,
co-written,produced, sung by and directed by Kevin Spacey.
This film was released in America in 2004 to mixed reviews
and poor box office and has just been released here at
selected cinemas. I have always liked the singing style of
Bobby Darin and was eagerly waiting for this film.

Bobby Darin's real name was Walden Robert Cassotto
and he was born May 14, 1936, in the Bronx.
When he was 8 it was found that he had rheumatic fever
(as did I when I was 10). Doctors declared that he would never
see his 15th birthday. By the time he was a teenager he could
play several musical instruments, including piano, drums and guitar.
In the Kevin Spacey movie he saw a malfunctioning sign at a
Chinese restaurant reading "DARIN DUCK" rather than the
intended "MANDARIN DUCK" and thought the "darin" looked
good. Later this story was modified, as he said on one occasion
that the name was randomly picked out of the telephone book.
Neither story has ever been verified.

In 1956, his agent negotiated a contract for him with Decca
Records although this produced no hit records.
He left Decca to sign with Atlantic Records, where he wrote and
arranged music for himself and others. His career took off in 1958
when he released his own song "Splish Splash" which became an
instant hit, selling more than a million copies.
In 1959, Bobby Darin recorded "Dream Lover", a ballad that
would become a multi-million seller.
His next record was "Mack the Knife" and the song went to
No. 1 on the charts, sold several million copies, and won the
Grammy Award for Record of the Year in 1960.
Bobby Darin was voted the Grammy Award for Best New Artist.
Later that year, he covered Charles Trenet's hit song "La Mer"
in english as "Beyond the Sea". The song was a smash hit and
established him as a popular artist in Europe, particularly France.

At the height of his popularity, Darin began to explore other
art and began working in motion pictures. He wrote the music
for several hit films and even began costarring, where he met
actress Sandra Dee who was born Alexandra Zuck,
on April 23, 1942 in Bayonne, New Jersey.
In 1960, while filming "Come September" which was released
in 1961, 18-year-old Dee co-starred and fell in love with teen icon
Bobby Darin. The two were married in December of 1960 and
had a son, Dodd, the following year.
Sandra Dee and her mother (who was shown in the film as the
typical dominating movie mother) moved to California to further
pursue Dee’s acting career. Dee landed the role as the original
"Gidget" (1959) and replaced Debbie Reynolds in "Tammy Tell Me
True" (1961).

When asked about her initial reaction to Bobby Darin, Sandra Dee
later responded, "I hated him ! We spent four weeks in Portofino
shooting and I never said anything. He proposed to me before we
started the picture. He had just arrived in Portofino and was in a
yellow canary suit. The marriage lasted seven years and abruptly
ended in 1967 concurrent with the end of Dee’s film career.
Bobby Darin took on more meaningful movie roles, and in 1962 he
won the Golden Globe Award for "Most Promising Male Newcomer",
for his role in "Pressure Point". In 1963 he was nominated for an
Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role as a
shell-shocked soldier in "Captain Newman, M.D". Perhaps the most
major disappointment of his life came when he lost the lead role in
West Side Story to Richard Beymer. Several leading Hollywood men
like Anthony Perkins, Warren Beatty, and Elvis Presley were also
major contenders for the role. In 1968 Darin received the
disheartening news that the woman who had raised him was his
grandmother, not his mother as he had been led to believe, and
the woman that he thought was his sister was actually his mother.
He saw the world changing, and the music business along with it.
He supported Robert Kennedy in his 1968 presidential bid, but
then Kennedy was murdered. Darin sold his home and moved to
a trailer in Big Sur. He had become disillusioned with life, and
with his career. In January 1971, he underwent his first heart
surgery in an attempt to correct some of the heart damage he
had lived with since childhood.
Darin's life was cut short on December 20, 1973, when he died
following his second open heart surgery at the young age of 37.
Sandra Dee died on 20th February, 2005 in Los Robles Hospital
& Medical Center in Thousand Oaks, California, where she had
been treated for 14 days for complications from kidney disease
and pneumonia.
Earlier this year I came across a 2 set CD/DVD of Bobby Darin, called
"Aces Back To Back!".The CD had a collection of songs, including
"Beyond The Sea";"Dream Lover" and "Mack The Knife". The DVD
begins with seven songs from Bobby Darin's television variety series
that first hit airwaves in July 1972. Also included was a beautiful song
called "Dream" sung as a duet with Petula Clark.
If you are at all interested in watching Bobby Darin in action this
CD/DVD is well worth viewing.
One of many comments about Bobby Darin.
“I used to be pissed off at Bobby Darin because he changed
styles so much. Now I look at him and think he was a genius.”

Neil Young.


Peter said...

Even though we have discussed Bobby Darin at times it never registered that he was only 37 when he died.

Crazedmomof4 said...

Thankyou for the history lesson! I think I learned something.;)I love old musicals too! My all time fav is Gigi! But I really love them all.

Merle said...

Hi Warren ~~ Good post. I liked Bobby Darin a lot especially Multiplication and Mac the Knife. Thanks for the info.
Cheers, Merle.

Jim said...

Thanks Warren. I didn't know hardly any of that about Bobby. You must have a treasure trove someplace.
Where is Sandra Dee now?

Abandoned in Pasadena said...

Bobby Darin was one of my favorite singers, but I had no idea that he died so young.

Jim said...

Jim said...

Warren, you can update the date to a current one.
On the bottom of the create page, there is a grey line witht he printing: "Post and Comment Options."
Click that and you can put in whatever date and time you want your post to say.
I did that with my post for tomorrow, by midnight tonight I will be in bed.

Michael said...

A lovely tribute to a great man. Thank you for posting this. You might be interested in an interview I recently did with Perry Botkin, the arranger/conductor for Bobby's 1966 LP "In a Broadway Bag." He shares some wonderful studio stories and says some marvelous things about Bobby: Perry Botkin Interview at